July 1, 2013
This week we say if you think USATF is good at screwing over runners, they’ve got nothing on the Ethiopian federation, we take a look at the tape and come up with a strategy to outkick Mo Farah, introduce you to Iceland’s version of Mary Cain, reveal how LRC message boarders may have helped uncover perjury in the Zimmerman trial, and defend ourselves from being left-wing political hacks.
Kenenisa Bekele Deserves Better
In the US, people justifiably complain about inept track and field administrators. In America, the US federation often passes over the little guys who dream of a spot at a US champs or Olympic Trials, but are consistently told to get lost even when they show up and lanes are available.
Last year, USATF only let 28 women and 30 men run the Olympic Trials 1500 even though there were three rounds in each event. So instead of letting in more athletes, USATF ran a full round to
bore the fans eliminate four/six people. How many dedicated runners were needlessly denied the dream of saying they were an Olympic Trials runner? This year, USATF started a national championship 5000 with just nine men in it. At the 2008 Olympic Trials, only 27 men ran the four heats of the 800, not 32.
It would be hard to be this athlete unfriendly if you tried.
But it could be much, much worse. In Ethiopia, their administrators screw over the big fish.
The Ethiopians in recent years haven’t been holding an Olympic/World Championship Trials. Even though choosing a team based on time alone didn’t work out very well last year, particularly in the marathon, the Ethiopians are at it again this year.
Initially, the 2013 Prefontaine Classic 10,000 was going to be the trials race for the Ethiopians. Kenenisa Bekele, the greatest or second greatest distance runner in track history, won that race. Afterwards, it was reported that Bekele and second-placer Imane Merga were confirmed for Moscow.
Or maybe not. Last Thursday, Kenenisa Bekele ran a disappointing 13:07 5000m in Ostava. Later that same day, three Ethiopians, two of whom Bekele beat in Eugene, ran a 10,000m at the Folksam Grand Prix in Sweden, running faster than Bekele ran at Prefontaine . That result apparently* gave them the spots for Moscow as what did Kenenisa do just three days later?
Kenenisa, a guy with 19 global gold medals for Ethiopia during his career, scrambled and tried to run a 10,000 faster than the three in Sweden.
Totally ridiculous. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that while Bekele won the 10,000 by 27+ seconds, he only ran 27:46.56 in a race in windy conditions where he was on his own after 5,000m
Arguably the greatest distance runner in history has had the following track race schedule this year:
May 31st: 10,000 in 27:12.08
7 days later: 13:07.88 5000
June 7: 5000 in 13:07.88
3 days later: 10,000 in 27:46.56
After his 13:07.88, we wrote an article saying he was finished as a global track threat. Perhaps if he wasn’t being run into the ground, thanks in large part to the Ethiopian federation, he could re-emerge. Given the fact he’s had very little rest between races this year, we assume his handlers must think his workouts are going well or why bother. At age 31, he needs much more rest than when he was younger. His handlers and the Ethiopian federation deserve a big thumbs down for his racing schedule.
The Ethiopian Federation could send a tremendous team to the World Championship, but picking that team based upon seasonal PR is foolish. Bekele beat all the other Ethiopians at Pre. He should be on the team over someone who ran slightly faster in better conditions a month later.
One more thing is foolish – the often injured Bekele running a 10,000m at some obscure meet, three days after a 5,000m.
We are certain of one thing – he deserves much, much better.
Take a look at the meet where he ran his 10,000. It almost looks like he was running at
the USATF Nationals in Des Moines a high school meet:
— Jeroen Vanherck (@vanherckjeroen) June 30, 2013
*We don’t know for certain the Bekele is off the Moscow 10,000 squad but can think of no other reason why he’d run a 10,000 three days after a 5,000.
Email of The Week I
Above we talked about USATF’s inexcusable actions at this year’s USA Outdoor Track and Field championships where only nine guys started the men’s 5000. On Sunday, we featured as Quote of the Day a quote from Joe Stilin, one of the guys who was in Des Moines, ready to run the 5000, but was told to get lost.
After we featured Stilin’s quote, we got a great email from a LetsRun.com visitor from Washington, DC:
A great thought/email.
But instead of making an athlete cause a scene, what about starting an online movement where athletes pledge to boycott the 2014 USAs unless USATF agrees to fill the fields with alternates after scratches to a pre-determined minimum level of competitors. If you have an idea about this, email us as we’re still working it out in our heads. We’d say 32 in the 800 (if three rounds), 16 in the 5000 (if straight final), 24 in the 10,000 (if straight final).
National championships on the track should have set field sizes.
Here’s How To Outkick Mo Farah Over The Final 400 Meters?
The highlight of last week and perhaps the year so far was the magnificent men’s 5000 between Mo Farah, Yenew Alamirew and Hagos Gebrhiwet in Birmingham. The battle between the double Olympic champ and the top two 5000 runners in 2013 more than lived up to the hype. Distance races don’t get much better than this.
Gebrhiwet, who had the lead at the bell on the inside with Farah on his outside, refused to let Farah come on the inside for the entire first turn. On the second turn, Farah grabbed the lead and refused to let Alamirew come around to grab the pole. Then Farah held off Alamirew in the stretch after digging deep.
But, with a few days to think about it, we’re wondering if that is really true?
In the end, Farah beat Alamirew by .47 seconds or 3.5 meters. But Alamirew ran the entire last turn on the outside of Farah. A one-turn stagger for a full lane is about 3.25 meters. Now Alamirew wasn’t a full lane outside of Farah – let’s call it half a lane or 1.625 meters of extra running which is .21 seconds at the 25.8 200 speed they were running.
So Farah beat Alamirew by .47 seconds but basically half of that – .21 seconds – was because he ran a shorter distance. If the roles were reverse and Alamairew had the inside and Farah was on the outside, then you are talking about basically a dead heat.
Now to be fair, we guess we should point out on the first turn Farah ran farther than Alamirew.
But our main point is as follows.
Alamirew probably isn’t going to out-kick Mo Farah from behind on the last lap, but if Alamirew had the lead and the rail at the bell, it would be a lot closer than people might think.
Last year, remember in the Olympics, Dejen Gebremeskel ran the same last lap split or maybe a tiny bit faster than Farah but he had too much ground to make up.
Potential Ethiopian rivals to Mo Farah, if you are reading this and want to have a hope of beating him, you need to have the lead at the bell.
Either that or maybe now that Gebrhiwet has lost twice straight to Alamirew, he’ll realize gold isn’t in store for him in 2013 and he’ll sacrifice himself and set a brutally hot pace. Kicking off of a 13:00 flat pace is a lot different than kicking off of a 13:25 pace.
Surprises of The Week (Galen Rupp and Shalane Flanagan Have A Bad Week and They Didn’t Even Race)
Dejen Gebremeskel’s 26:51.02 and Meseret Defar’s 30:08.06
Normally a 12:47 5000 runner who has an Olympic silver medal to his name running a 26:51.02 10,000 wouldn’t be a big surprise. But it definitely surprised us last week when Gebremeskel did that in his 10,000 debut as he had looked awful in running 13:31.02 for 5000 at the adidas Grand Prix in his one other outdoor track race this year in May.
Athletes are entitled to one bad race as they can be sick, have food poisoning, etc. And Gebremeskel is a proven commodity who at Carlsbad on the roads in April had crushed Yenew Alamirew by six seconds. We should have never written him off in the first place.
Gebremeskel skipped the BAA 10k last week, which if he’d run that and the half-marathon later in the year he almost certainly would have won $100,000. To pass up that payday he must have had a good reason, and clearly he did.
Gebremeskel’s inclusion in the 10,000 makes things very interesting and a ton harder for Galen Rupp to replicate his silver from the Olympics last year.
Speaking of Americans trying to win a 10,000 medal, winning a medal isn’t going to be easy for Shalane Flanagan either. With two of the top five from last year’s Olympic 10,000 out with injury/pregnancy, we were starting to like Flanagan’s chances.
As was the case for Rupp, Flangan’s odds for a medal went way down last week as well when Meseret Defar ran her first 10,000 since 2011 in a stellar 30:08.06. We thought the two time Olympic 5000 champ, who has never medalled in a global 10,000, would be content to run just the 5000 at Worlds, but Defar now looks like the favorite in the 10,000. And that’s a big statement as the race will also include two-time Olympic 10,000 champ Tirunesh Dibaba who has never lost a 10,000 in her life.
But Defar is no 10,000 slouch. She’s the only woman with two of the 10 fastest times in history.
1 29:31.78 Wang Junxia CHN 09.01.73 1 Beijing 08.09.1993 2 29:53.80 Meselech Melkamu ETH 19.04.85 1 Utrecht 14.06.2009 3 29:54.66 Tirunesh Dibaba ETH 01.06.85 1 Beijing 15.08.2008 4 29:56.34 Elvan Abeylegesse TUR 11.09.82 2 Beijing 15.08.2008 5 29:59.20 Meseret Defar ETH 19.11.83 1 Birmingham 11.07.2009 6 30:01.09 Paula Radcliffe GBR 17.12.73 1 München 06.08.2002 7 30:04.18 Berhane Adere ETH 21.07.73 1 Saint-Denis 23.08.2003 8 30:07.15 Werknesh Kidane ETH 21.11.81 2 Saint-Denis 23.08.2003 9 30:07.20 Sun Yingjie CHN 03.10.77 3 Saint-Denis 23.08.2003 10 30:08.06 Meseret Defar ETH 19.11.83 1 Sollentuna 14.06.2009
Quote of the Week I (that wasn’t quote of the day)
“I really think I was prepared for anything (at USAs). I was living the dream, man. I could care less if we were walking the first [half] or coming through in 1:53. It didn’t matter to me.”
– surprise US 4th place 1,500 man Matt Elliott, a 4:40 guy in high school, talking in a great Peter Gambaccini Runner’s World story on Elliott. The story reveals that Elliott is a K-3rd Grade teacher for troubled kids at The Palmetto School for abused, neglected and abandoned kids.
We loved the anecdote in the article about how Elliott talks to the kids each Monday about his races over the weekend and shows them videos. They always respond in the same fashion.
“The major question they always ask is, ‘Mr. Matt, why don’t you win?’”
Quote of the Week II (that wasn’t quote of the day)
“When you’re running a hundred miles a week, a couple of beers after a day’s training isn’t a problem. I think we’ve got rather obsessed with diet. I didn’t drink during the race.”
– two-time Olympic 1500 champ Sebastian Coe, talking to Esquire in the UK.
Stat of The Week I
We haven’t taken the time to verify this but loved the following tweet:
@letsrundotcom Since 2000 118 medal winners in OG, WC & EC have been caught doping in track according to Kaggestad. This is just top 3
— Halvard Berg (@st_halvard) June 30, 2013
Stat of The Week II
Below are 18-year old Consesulu’s Kipruto‘s steeplechase times for 2013. See the trend?
Conseslus Kipruto’s Steepleachases This Year
8:01.16 1 Diamond Shanghai 18 May
8:03.59 1 Pre Eugene OR 1 Jun
8:04.48 1 Bislett Oslo 13 Jun
8:11.27 1 Ostrava 27 Jun
Watch Out Mary Cain
At age 17, Mary Cain has set the US on fire this year. But she’s not the only teen making big progress. There is an equally remarkable story up in Iceland.
There, 17- year old Aníta Hinriksdóttir ran a national record of 2:00.49 last week. Iceland is a country of just 300,000 plus, so to have a 2:00.49 woman at age 17 is just beyond probability. Think about it, how often does it happen in the US? It’s happened twice in 31 years and Iceland’s population is 1/1000th that of the US, so it should happen once every 15,000 years there.
Iceland has never had a track Olympic medallist (they have won two few field medals as well as men’s team handball silver in in 2008) so any hardware that Hinriksdóttir would earn would be historical.
Googling around about Iceland is actually a lot of fun. Did you know we can tell the name of Aníta’s father just by looking at her name? Iceland names are patronymic meaning your last name is basically your dad’s first name and then either sson (meaning son of) or dóttir (meaning daughter of). So Anita’s dad’s name was Hinrik.
Aníta Hinriksdóttir was fourth at World juniors last year which was won by now 19-year old Ajee’ Wilson of the US. The runner-up at World Juniors was a Brit – Jessica Judd. Judd is now 18 and she also just had a great week last week, running 1:59.85.
A Running Website Playing A Role In A Presidential Election, A Terrorism Investigation, and Now Trial of The Decade
As LetsRun.com has continued to grow and is now consistently averaging over a million unique visitors per month (1.1 million + avg for first six months of 2013), the site is getting more and more mainstream cross-over.
Distance runners are normally highly intelligent and hard working and as a result, we’ve always said we’ve got the most amazing and intelligent visitors out there and the wisdom of the LetsRun crowd continues to go mainstream. LRC is on a real hot-streak during the last 12 months.
From uncovering a vice Presidential candidate’s lies, to helping a picture of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect go viral, LRCers are consistently providing insight into some of the biggest stories in the land.
Now, LetsRun may play a minor role in the trial of the decade – the George Zimmerman trial.
At the Zimmerman Trial, one of the prosecution’s witnesses was Jane Surdyka, who testified she heard a boy’s voice screaming for help. The problem for prosecutors is Surdyka may have committed perjury as she described herself as an Olympic marathoner save for the 1980 boycott, a claim that she has made even more directly in the past on-line.
Small problem. The Olympic boycott didn’t prevent any woman from being an Olympic marathoner in 1980 as there were no women’s event’s longer than 1500 until the 1984 Olympics.
Some in the media have picked up on the LetsRun crowd helping uncovering this lie. Of course they don’t give our esteemed message boarders any credit, but in this case there’s also a quote from the TFN message board and it’s unattributed, so we won’t take it personally.
More: No evidence Zimmerman eyewitness qualified for Olympics, despite claim under oath
The Thread That Started It: “Who the heck is George Zimmerman witness Jane Surdyka? Witness who says she would have been Olympic marathoner?
Email Of The Week II: Letsrun.com’s Left-Wing Bias
We end with our Email of the Week.
We don’t want the previous piece on the Zimmerman trial to think we are dominated by a right-wing bias. We also want to show you that if you are in the public’s eye, you are going to get criticized by someone. So the next time you see something you don’t like on LetsRun, don’t come up with some big conspiracy theory that it’s part of some big right-wing or left-wing conspiracy. Given the fact that the founders of LetsRun.com’s father used to work in Bush administration, the website has long been accused of having a right-wing bias. Now because LetsRun has featured articles supportive of same-sex marriage, it is a liberal cesspool. In reality, it’s neither. It’s a running website.
You just can’t win:
Looks like Justin Gatlin has redeemed himself in your eyes by supporting homosexual marriage, since LRC did not describe him as “drug cheat Justin Gatlin” supports marriage depravity (AKA same-sex etc). Another classic example of your biased, one-sided reporting and hypocritical liberal politics that keep showing up on your site. Lance should follow suit. I would love to see that headline on LRC. As long as people agree with your politics they can’t do any wrong.
What a sad joke you people really are.
Quotes Of The Day & Last Week’s Homepages:
Note: To see a particular day’s homepage, click on the hyperlink of the date. The hyperlink below the date on the quotes will take you to that particular article – not that day’s homepage.
“These guys will go back home and they know they tried to race me over the last lap today and they know they don’t want to leave it to the last lap (in Moscow). They’ll probably sacrifice someone to go hard somewhere. Even today they were talking today amongst each other, the three Ethiopians.”
– Mo Farah after winning a thrilling 5,000 race at the Birmingham Diamond League meet yesterday, talking about how his competition might try to beat him at Worlds. The Ethiopians he beat yesterday will likely be some of his toughest he’ll face in Moscow, but Farah beat them all in the last lap with a 53.40 400.
“I’m going to remember that moment for a very long time. Sunday at the US Championships, minutes before the 5,000 final started. My heart racing and sweat dripping down my face in the Des Moines heat, waiting for the check in clerk to finish the phone call. I was ready to run: burnt orange Texas uniform on, spiked up, everything. Over the last hour I’d somehow managed to calm myself and prepare mentally to race, even after a long weekend of wondering and hoping. She ended her call, looked at me and said, ‘sorry, no, you can’t run’ …”
“This weekend hurt me. I saw and heard a lot of things I wish I hadn’t. I feel disillusioned by what I’ve cherished as the purest of all sports, the one that’s defined my life for almost nine years now. This episode is the tipping point in my gradual realization over the past two years that US track and field isn’t what it seems on the surface. There are politics like you wouldn’t believe. Better have a friend in a high place or you’re not getting anywhere.”
“This weekend’s meet shouldn’t be solely about selecting three people to go to Moscow. The name of the meet says it all – The United States Track and Field Championships – so why did the 5,000 final include such an alarmingly small fraction of the talent in the country? … The meet should help younger guys gain experience and exposure. Instead, the race ended up being a jog fest for Nike’s athletes in front of a small crowd.”
– Texas distance runner Joe Stilin talking about his disappointment and frustration at being left out of the US Championship 5k last weekend, which ended up only having 9 guys after 9 scratched. For more on this, see this thread and video: Mick Byrne On USATF Not Filling 5,000m Field: “Someone in USA Track and Field is not doing their job, it’s that simple.”
“I honestly had no intention on running the 800m. During the 2010 and 2011 track seasons, I was not competitively running. I did not have a sponsorship in 2009 and was struggling financially to support myself as a runner. Not having the resources to train like a world class athlete, I found myself questioning my love for the sport. I began asking myself if running was worth not having food in the refrigerator and money in the bank. So I decided to use my UCLA English Literature degree and get a job. I also returned to school to do some post graduate work towards a master in Nursing. While in school I registered for a jogging class at the local community college and the teacher recognized me as ‘that 400 hurdler from UCLA.’ He then introduced me to my current coach Abdul Morceli, who somehow convinced me to run with the cross country team over the summer. Being with 18 and 19 year old guys who were excited to run reminded me of how I once felt about running. From there I decided to run for myself and for the love of the sport. So to avoid pressure I decided to run the 800. It wasn’t important if I ran fast or not because at that time I didn’t see myself as a 800 guy. I was running for fun!”
– US Championships 800m 3rd placer Brandon Johnson talking to thedailyrelay.com about how he went from a burnt-out 400m hurdler to a 1:43 man and one of the best 800m runners in the US.
“I am very excited that all the stars aligned this year to make the Bank of America Chicago Marathon my debut at the distance. There are a lot of great fall marathon options, but for my first I wanted to stay true to my Midwest roots-born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, college at University of Wisconsin, married in Madison, and now the Chicago Marathon.”
– Matt Tegenkamp announcing he’ll run his marathon debut at Chicago 2013 in October.
– Scott Wescott, Australian national champ in the marathon and father of three under the age of 6 (4 months, 3 and 5), explaining that he was reluctantly pulling out of the World Champs because Athletics Australia insists he attend an entire pre-Worlds camp. Wescott wanted to report a week after August 1 for his August 17th marathon. Come on AA, have some compassion!
“Lately, distance running has succumbed to the allure of impossibly fast times set by a quick-flowing stream of anonymous, interchangeable, sponsor-wrapped blades, slicing seconds off the world record. Times are faster, but who cares? Two hours and three minutes is not inherently interesting – people are. …”
“… Unlike the smooth and outwardly impassive professional runners, Kawauchi grimaces, and his arms flail. He appears to be struggling, yet he hangs on, often collapsing at the finish. Even so, he insists marathon running is ‘fun.’ … JAAF named Kawauchi to its marathon team for the world championships, to be contested Aug. 17 in Moscow. The cameras will undoubtedly focus on the lead pack of uniformly knife-thin gazelles. But further back, spectators – perhaps a government worker with a desk job, maybe a middle-of-the-pack college runner or a gangly high school student with big dreams – will strain to see a spiky-haired, muscular striver, teeth bared, giving it everything he has.”
– Excerpt from Slate.com article by Sarah Barker on Japan civil servant runner Yuki Kawauchi, who has a 2:08 PR and beats many of the professional corporate Japan runners despite working a full-time job and keeping up a ridiculous racing schedule which has included 4 marathons, 2 half marathons, a 30k and a track 5k in 2013 alone.
“So just like last year, the US is realistically dreaming of a medal in every single men’s mid-d/distance event, except this year the odds are seemingly higher as David Rudisha and Nijel Amos are hurt and Evan Jager is a year more experienced in the steeple. While our knowledge of 1980s track and field isn’t that great, we don’t think that the US has ever realistically had a shot at medalling in all of the mid-d/distance events at Worlds.”
– Excerpt from our look back at the men’s action at 2013 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.